In the 8 o’clock Wednesday evening cable news ratings, CNN’s town hall with 2024 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump topped Fox News and MSNBC.
Based on data from Nielsen Fast National, CNN attracted 3.12 million people overall and 703,000 viewers in the all-important 25-54 age bracket.
Over the past few weeks, CNN’s prime-time average has been approximately 500,000 viewers, putting it in third place after Fox and MSNBC.
CNN broadcaster Kaitlan Collins’ performance at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire suffered a swift backlash from protesters, some of whom were even located within CNN headquarters, who called it a “spectacle of lies.”
Similar to 2016, when Trump’s convergence at the time helped boost CNN’s viewership, CNN won the time slot. New York Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg said in March of 2016 that with CNN’s heavy coverage of Trump, the ratings increased by about 170 percent.
Fox’s last six Trump town hall events outpaced CNN, drawing a total of 5.1 million viewers, 4.4 million viewers, 4.2 million viewers, 3.8 million viewers, 3.5 million viewers, and 3.2 million viewers for Sean Hannity’s June 2020 event.
According to CNN’s then-president Jeff Zucker, who spoke to Rutenberg, he was taken aback by the draw Trump received, saying the numbers “were crazy.” But Zucker expressed public sorrow over CNN’s extensive coverage of Trump during the time.
CNN rakes in $200,000 for each 30-second commercial, or 40 times what the network makes on a typical night. As Rutenberg put it then, “That’s found money.”
There is nothing particularly shocking about CNN’s newest town hall turnout. Even though their viewership was more than twice that of the next competitor and was significantly higher than CNN’s typical ratings, Fox News still only managed 3 million viewers on an average night.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is one of several conservatives who applauded Trump after his speech. Greene wrote that she and the ex-president “laughed and laughed” about his potential to use the network to promote his assertions about the 2020 election.